At Women & Co., we see July 4th as the perfect time to celebrate not only our nation's independence, but also the women who have achieved their own financial independence. I recently had the chance to spend some time in the homes of three amazing women -- an Army mom, a Navy widow and a Persian Gulf veteran -- and talk to them about what they've done to take control of their financial lives. Here are a few excerpts from our conversations:
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Army mom and Director of Communications, Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)
"Right from the beginning, my husband and I planned ways to protect our family and manage our budget so we would be ready when his career as an Army officer took us to a new place and my income inevitably fluctuated. We focused on avoiding debt and paying off existing student loans, credit cards, and car loans. When we had our first child, we realized that we needed to enhance our strategy, so we met with a financial advisor."
"For us, it was hard to talk about money because we each had very different ideas about what we should do with it. The financial advisor helped us talk about our goals openly and see the value in each of our ideas about how to save for the future. We still have challenges, of course, since our finances, location, and family circumstances can change drastically from year to year, but working with an advisor has really taught us a few solid lessons that we live by every day."
Survivor and Counselor, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
"One of the initial thoughts that came into my mind after my husband's death was that it was hard enough that my kids were going to have to go through life without their father, but I didn't want them to miss out on any of the typical activities of childhood -- playing soccer, taking piano lessons or going out to the movies with their friends -- due to not being able to swing the costs. I was almost overwhelmed at times by the new responsibility of managing the financial future of our now single-parent family."
"Before Lawrence's death, financial security had been something we were working on together. We would discuss plans and goals, but we discussed them together. There was a lot I did not understand about making long-term financial plans, and I suddenly no longer had the luxury of letting him handle it. I sought the advice of trusted financial advisors and clearly delineated short- and long-term goals for myself and my children -- like college educations, braces for three sets of teeth, and, above all, becoming and remaining debt-free."
Veteran, U.S. Army and Vice President of Education, CredAbility
"I'd been gone for years, and when I got back from deployment overseas, so many things had changed. It was hard for me to reconnect with what was going on in my life or my finances. My career path meant going back to school, then starting my own business while raising my daughter -- challenges my military background gave me the strength but not necessarily the financial skills to manage."
"With support from my family and good advice from people I trust, I was able to get my own finances in order, and I now focus on helping others do the same. I've actually put together a program that helps the women, men and families who've served our country reconnect by building their financial skills."
You can meet these inspiring women and hear their stories in a series of podcasts and videos on the Citi Salutes website. There you can also learn more about CredAbility ReConnect, a free online coaching and financial education program sponsored by Citi Community Development, with support from some of the nation's leading Veterans Service Organizations: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, TAPS and MSCCN. This innovative new program provides financial empowerment for members of the armed forces, survivors, veterans and their families.
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